The Yellow Wallpaper

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When looking at two nineteenth century works of change for two females in an American society, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Stephen Crane come to mind. A feminist socialist and a realist novelist capture moments that make their readers rethink life and the world surrounding. Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” was first published in 1892, about a white middle-class woman who was confined to an upstairs room by her husband and doctor, the room’s wallpaper imprisons her and as well as liberates herself when she tears the wallpaper off at the end of the story. On the other hand, Crane’s 1893 Maggie: A Girl of the Streets is the realist account of a New York girl and her trials of growing up with an alcoholic mother and slum life world. The imagery in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Stephen Crane’s Maggie: A Girl of the Streets uses color in unconventional ways by embedding color in their narratives to symbolize the opposite of their common meanings, allowing these colors to represent unique associations; to support their thematic concerns of emotional, mental and societal challenges throughout their stories; offering their reader's the opportunity to question the conventionality of both gender and social systems.

The use of color in Stephan Crane’s Maggie: A Girl of the Streets is crucial when looking at the setting of the story; the repeated use of red is significant when describing Maggie’s mother Mary and the importance of color in describing the social system through the story. It is seen prominently when Maggie and Pete go to the theater, parts of the play paralleled the lives of the common people: "The latter spent most of his time out at soak in pale-green snow storms, busy with a nickel-plated revolver, re...

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...nd fear of the domesticity that she is imprisoned in. These ideas only reiterate the gilded cage idea of the nineteenth century and the association of all that is bad in a society represented by the trappings of domestic life.

The color symbolism in both Crane’s Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” share the associations of gender, society and the realism of a woman’s sphere within a changing and evolving commercial society. As the societal changes of the nineteenth century move closer to the industrialism, naturalism, and the rise of a new class taboos such as mental illness and poverty; it moves further from an ideal domestic Victorian society. The industrialization of manufacturing and the production of goods and thoughts are most representative through the writings of Crane and Gilman as well as other nineteenth century writers.
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